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Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3)

Aquaculture Legislation Amendment Bill (No 3) – first reading

Rahui Katene, MP for Te Tai Tonga

Tuesday 16 November 2010

The House is now immersed in the debate around yet another omnibus Bill.

The Bill makes amendments to the – - Aquaculture Reform (Repeals and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004; - Fisheries Act 1996; - Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004; - Resource Management Act 1991.

On its own, this may just seem like a technical clean up; another piece of legislation driven by administrative purposes.

As the MP for Te Tai Tonga, however, I want to bring two important points of distinction in speaking to this bill.

The first, of course, is that it has been six years since the Māori Commercial Settlement Act was passed. Urgent progress must proceed to ensure iwi get the full value from the settlement.

The Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act 2004 provided a full and final settlement of Māori commercial aquaculture interests since 21 September 1992. I remember the advent of that legislation clearly. It was something that iwi from the Top of the South, of course, were especially interested in.

The purpose of the 2004 legislation was to enable the marine farming industry to continue growing without risk of litigation relating to contemporary Treaty grievances, and to ensure iwi access to coastal marine space to develop their marine farming interests.

The proposed legislation is arguably, then, a ‘work in progress’, especially in consideration of the changes aimed at simplifying the process around new space for aquaculture activities allocation.

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It is also the means of achieving incremental progress taking into account the interim measure put in place to allow for the continuation of the 20% allocation mechanism for Māori interests in aquaculture.

Our sources tell us, is that Aquaculture Management Areas have not at all been successfully designated by Regional Authorities due to a lack of resourcing and planning capacity.

The main problem with this is that in order for the 20% of new space allocation for Māori aquaculture activities under the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Settlements to be carried out, these Areas need to be established.

And so, the purpose of this new Bill is to:

• streamline planning and consenting processes by removing the requirement for Aquaculture Management Areas;

• provide stronger incentives for industry development while maintaining existing processes to ensure environmental limits are respected;

• enable central government to take a more active role in aquaculture planning and consenting;

• and honour the Settlement under the Māori Commercial Aquaculture Claims Settlement Act.

Now I want to speak to this last point in more detail – as being the second point of distinction that the Maori Party brings to this debate.

Because of course, this legislation is not just about tidying up the statutes for the purpose of housekeeping.

It has a long whakapapa with whanau, hapu and iwi who seek enjoy genuine progress from their connections with their maunga, awa, moana, marae , tūpuna and atua.

And I want to share a little story with you about our own whanau experience. My uncle, Mike Reeves, was born and raised in Waikawa. He has talked to me about life in the mid-1940s, when both sea and freshwater food was plentiful. The whanau regularly benefited from the ample supplies of lamprey eel and ordinary silver belly eel found in the swamp from the beach. This was also a breeding area for whitebait and thousands of baby flounder right across the Waikawa Pa foreshore. In those times of plenty the people enjoyed fresh flounder, scallops, cockles, pipi and tons of herrings and mackerel. There was also a huge snapper area on the west side of the bay. In the bay itself there was plentiful blue cod, paua and kina. The whanau went to their beach to pick mussels, kopakopa and other kaimoana. And I’ll stop to give everyone a chance to stop salivating! But of course this isn’t a good news story. Because eventually the Waikawa marina was dug out and land reclaimed by uplifting the seabed and filling in the beautiful swamp. In that one act of human intervention, the people were robbed of their source of natural, healthy sea and freshwater food because of marina pollution. Their scallops have shifted out of the bay into deeper water because of pollution. The only shellfish left – kopakopa – is way out in the bay. Fast-forward to 2010 and now Port Marlborough wants to shift this shellfish from where they have been for hundreds of years by extending the marina so that more wealthy outsiders can moor their expensive toys there.

And so this Bill comes at a very good time for our people who are outraged at the decisions that local authorities continue to make, seemingly more focused on profits than people; on the financial return rather than the long term environmental health and wellbeing of the people.

And so I have to say, that there are certainly issues within this legislation which I would seek the expert and advice and knowledge of our whanau leaders like my Uncle Mike.

And I am thinking particularly about the nature of the new space allocation mechanism.

The proposed reforms seem to normalise aquaculture, by removing the need to create Aquaculture Management Areas and rebranding across the board all aquaculture activities as Coastal Permits. There is concern that this is an interim measure with no clear indication as to what will replace it and when it will be replaced. In our opinion, this issue should be finalised first before the legislation is progressed

In fact if we were to talk with any of our people involved in aquaculture, I would suggest that their main focus would be that the new space for aquaculture activities allocation, of 20%, should be increased – not removed.

We all accept that the current legislation hasn’t worked as it should have - as there has not been enough progress made in the allocation of new space for aquaculture activities by regional councils. The proposed reforms around the allocation of new space, although not ideal, are at least a step in simplifying the complex process of new space for aquaculture activities allocation.

But – and this is the critical thing – we must see ongoing and formalised consultation with iwi as a vital step in making progress. The commitment shown in regard to future consultation with iwi leaders around these issues is encouraging.

The Maori Party promotes ongoing and continuing engagement with Ministers and iwi leaders, in the hopes of reaching a speeding resolution which can promote the development of the aquaculture industry and secure a central position in that industry for iwi.

And just for the record, I want to outline some of the key understandings we have around iwi leaders operate in this – and indeed in other fora with Ministers.

The role of the Iwi Leadership Group is strictly focused on is advising Ministers on the development of options that best advance iwi interests. It is to be noted, however, that members of the Iwi Leaders Group do not purport to speak for, or represent, any iwi other than their own – there is no one-size-fits all template which provides the generic iwi answer.

Accordingly, the Iwi Leaders Group does not have a mandate to negotiate or reach agreements on behalf of any iwi. Their focus is on reporting back to iwi, both directly, through e-pānui and hui as required, and through regularly Iwi Chairs’ Forums.

Finally, it should be noted that engagement between Ministers and the iwi leaders does not derogate from the Treaty relationship between Iwi and the Crown and is no substitute for direct engagement between the Treaty partners.

With all these principles in mind, I do want to acknowledge the leadership of iwi and record our respect for the views that they bring, including the views of experts from regions with interests in aquaculture as well as outside expertise where that is required.

And I remember what my Uncle Mike keeps fighting for – a quality of life, a clean pristine environment, the ability to go to the beach and pick your own food, leaving behind a legacy of beauty for our mokopuna. The Maori Party welcomes the open door approach, and will support this bill at the first reading to enable the korero to be had.


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